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September 4, 2015

'The Big Bang Theory' Season 4, Episode 16 Recap

by Oliver Miller, posted Feb 18th 2011 6:50AM
'The Big Bang Theory' S04/E16['The Big Bang Theory' - 'The Cohabitation Formulation']

As we mentioned last time around, 'The Big Bang Theory' is at its best when it's subverting traditional sitcom expectations, not going along with them. But tonight's episode seemed content to throw down some of the hoariest sitcom tropes of all time -- the overbearing mother, the love triangle -- and then had nothing new to do with them.

Which isn't to say that tonight's show wasn't funny. It just wasn't funny funny, and it could have been so much more.

Really, the episode focused on two love triangles: Howard, Bernadette and Howard's mother; and then Leonard, Penny and Raj's sister Priya. Howard was struggling with cutting the umbilical cord that bound him to his mother, grappling with the novel concept of actually moving in with his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Leonard was reunited with former hook-up buddy Priya, and Penny had to watch with barely concealed horror as it was revealed that the pair was absolutely perfect for each other -- right down to their shared ability to recite massive chunks of 'The Taming of the Shrew' from memory.

Honestly, the Howard/Bernie portions of the show fell pretty flat. It was all standard stuff that could have been on a sitcom from, say, 1950. Howard was a wuss, his (off-camera) mom was ridiculously overbearing, and Bernadette was stuck playing the thankless role of the needy girlfriend. Howard finally moved out of his mom's house, only to attempt to turn Bernie into his mom, with him asking her for snacks and for a ride to the dentist's office. Bernie promptly kicked him out, and Howard went right back to mommy. Cue groans and eye-rolls at how clichéd and predictable it all was. The screaming mother thing wasn't funny; it was more unpleasant than anything else, and the conclusion was visible from a million miles away.

The Leonard/Penny/Priya thing paid more dividends, if only because it got Sheldon and Amy involved. Upon seeing Penny's evident distress, Amy decided to console her, girl-to-girl, which was truly the finest part of the episode ...

Amy is really working well as a female version of Sheldon, and she shares his 'Rain Man'-esque quality of having to say exactly what she's thinking at any given moment. This made her attempts to do "girl talk" with Penny both painful and hilarious, and her utterly flat line-readings were really the high point of the show. Hearing Amy say "What up, bestie?" in her cyborg-like tone was totally awesome, as was this totally failed attempt to cheer up Penny: "Let's talk about Priya, that man-stealing b*tch." Very nice.

But really, any scene without Sheldon or Amy was pretty much dead air. The clichéd elements of the plot left all the actors stranded, casting around for funny bits. Raj's attempt to leave a voicemail while Leonard and Priya were getting it on was nice -- as were his repeated attempts to master the past tense of "forbid." But Priya didn't get any real jokes, and Leonard was once again stuck playing the role of the bland straight-man.

However, the episode did leave the Leonard/Priya/Penny triangle dangling, with the Penny vs. Priya battle tantalizingly unresolved. Let's hope that the show does something more interesting with it than it did with the Howard/Bernadette fiasco.

Random jokes:

"I hope this moment never ends ... gotta go."

"I've got a better solution: We wait for my mom's heart to explode from all the salt that she eats."

"Who's there? Are you a sex criminal?" x 3

One nice part from the Howard/Bernie thing -- Howard removing his shirt to reveal that he's not wearing a full turtleneck ... just a turtleneck bib.

"Did you offer him a hot beverage?"

"Yeah, that's a real pickle, bye."

"As your tertiary friend, I'm prepared to step in and help you."

"I forbidded it!"

"I foreboded you to have sex."

"The Hindu Code of Manu is very clear on these matters ... she will be reborn in the womb of a jackal." -- "We're Indian; we believe this stuff."

"The dance with no pants."

"She comes from a culture that literally wrote the book on how to have neat sex."

"You are akin to the plover, a small scavenging bird."

As Penny starts crying in front of Amy: "Now, let's get those electrodes attached."

"I smell Chinese food."

"Hi, bestie!"

"Thanks to you, I was able to make a rhesus monkey cry."

"I don't want tea." -- "It's not optional."

'The Big Bang Theory' airs Thursdays, 8PM ET on CBS.

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the Penny / Sheldon scenes are still some of the best of the show and adding Amy into the mix is a plus.
the closing scene when Sheldon informed Penny that he was making her tea and it wasn't optional, the little smile on her face was subtle but spoke volumes of how far those two characters have come as friends.

February 18 2011 at 1:31 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I though that overall the episode was pretty good, if predictable. But I do think that it's nice how the writers are making Amy into a more integral (and even enjoyable!) part of the show. I never thought that Amy would be anything more than a Sheldon clone that wasn't funny, but I was wrong. The "besties" Amy-Penny relationship has remarkably worked, particularly in this episode, and I'm looking forward to even more of this.

February 18 2011 at 10:28 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

It was funny, but the best scenes were with Amy and Penny.

February 18 2011 at 7:57 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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